Q: Entering the children’s section of a bookstore or library can be frightening! The shelves of books are endless and at every turn, there is another perfect choice. To avoid confusion and to save time (since I have none of it!), I often grab a well-known selection for my child or for a birthday gift if I am in a bookstore. Do you have book suggestions that are less well-known, but just as entertaining and witty, if not more so than the popular choices?
A: This is a very common question from parents. You avoid the road less traveled or in this case, the “read” less traveled. Of course, it is easier to narrow down the choices simply by choosing the book we hear of time and time again. While there is nothing wrong with a classic, there are so many other titles that are left unknown and unread!
My first suggestion is Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages written by Marla Frazee. It is a witty and original story told from the perspective of a baby who is not walking yet. The baby gives practical yet hysterical tips on how to master the art of walking, such as what items are helpful to hold onto (a chair versus a cactus) and positive reinforcement that it is OK to cry when you fall.
I had never read a how-to book told from the point of view of a baby, but as I read it years ago, the genius of Marla Frazee became clearer. Whether reading this as a parent to a baby or to an older sibling, anyone would giggle at the step-by-step instructions and naturally infused humor. The larger message of not giving up and accomplishing a goal is not lost on this original book either. Enjoy!
My next choice, entitled Ish, is written by Peter Reynolds and is one of my personal favorites. It is the story of Ramon and his passion for creating. While Ramon’s love of drawing is initially squashed by his brother’s negative comments, his little sister Marisol helps him find the confidence he loses so quickly. Marisol helps to restore his faith in his talent and coins his original works of art as “ish”.
From that point on, Ramon feels free to draw in his own way, creating tree-ish and sun-ish pictures and writing however he chooses, crafting poem-ish poems. Marisol teaches him the valuable lesson of believing in yourself and how staying true to who you are and your vision will take you to the greatest of places, real or imaginary.
Another favorite of mine is When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry, written by Molly Bang. Children are emotional, sensitive and fiercely passionate about anything from a stuffed animal to a crayon. Sophie becomes frustrated when it is time to share with her sibling and as her toy is snagged away, she trips and falls. Sophie demonstrates her anger as any child would, roaring a red roar and comparing it to a volcano about to explode.
More importantly, it takes the reader on a journey with Sophie as she deals with her anger through escapism, sadness and eventually acceptance. Easily relatable to a child, the words are accompanied by beautiful illustrations that help a young one visualize the large feelings that overtake their small bodies and how, at the end of the day, you can always go home and start over.
My final selection is I Will Never Not Eat a Tomato written by Lauren Child. From a mother of a finicky eater, this book will restore anyone’s faith in the ability of imagination to help remedy just about anything – even me. Charlie is tasked with feeding his little sister Lola. A picky eater at her finest, she turns her nose up at everything, stating that she does not eat cauliflower, bananas, fish sticks, beans, peas, cabbage and of course tomatoes. She despises tomatoes. As a frustrated parent, I need to take a page out of Charlie’s book, keeping calm and carrying on. He turns these seemingly bland foods into magical creations, donning peas green drops from Greenland, carrots orange twiglets from Jupiter and mashed potato cloud fluff from Mount Fuji.
Lola, loving every minute of Charlie’s approach, tries the food that she once refused and ends up enjoying each of them. The story even ends with Lola creating a new moniker for tomatoes, lovingly referring to them as moon squirters. Although this is not the “be all, end all” to getting a child to eat, it is a step in the right direction and proves that a little originality can go a long way, especially at the dinner table.
***If you have an educational question related to this topic or any other educational area, just ASK AMANDA! You can contact her at [email protected] or respond below in the comments section below.
Amanda Lehrman, founder of TheMommaFiles, is a trained teacher and curriculum consultant. She attended Fordham University and received an M.S.T in Elementary Education and has worked with the Accelerated Literacy Learning program as well as Teachers College Reading and Writing projects, Kaplan K-12 and Catapult Learning. Amanda currently teaches 3rd through 5th grade students in a Gifted & Talented program in Edison, NJ.
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